tonight on "nightline," with tight security and heavy hearts, thousands of children in the connecticut town racked by tragedy return to school, as two more little victims of the sandy hook shooting are laid to rest. guns and money, from walmart to wall street. why this tragedy is different for the big gun business from sellers to investors. and dangerous video games. while a stunned town mourns, shooting spree video games like "call of duty" and "halo 4" are topping christmas lists across the country. we ask if these virtual rampages have any connection to real life tragedies.
from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden, and bill weir in new york city, this is a special edition of "nightline," tragedy at sandy hook, the search for solutions. good evening. i'm bill weir. out of all the soul-crushing images to come out of newtown, this one has a particularly devastating effect on countless folks checking their twitter and facebook feeds today. it's a letter to little jack pinto laid to rest on monday that reads, you're my best friend. we had fun together. i will miss you. i will talk to you in my prayers. i love you. signed john. two more 6-year-olds were buried today while buses rolled and grown-ups grappled with how to get on with life and protect the survivors from even more nightmares. here's abc's juju chang. >> reporter: the hugs were a little tighter today as parents in newtown gently guided their kids back to school, back to
their daily routines, surrounded by sadness and a stepped up police presence. >> getting them back to a routine is the best thing, i think. >> reporter: but the jittery town suffered a fresh scare as a threat shut down yet another newtown elementary school. >> better safe than sorry. >> reporter: but for karen dreyer's son logan, a sandy hook kindergartener, normal is still a long way off. she told abc's dan harris they're still in limbo as they await word on when classes resume. >> they wanted to go back to school. they wanted to be with their teachers. their teachers wanted to see them. >> reporter: the children, she says, are resilient but some parents were only pretending to be. >> it's scary, but i'm going to put on a brave face. we're going to march up to the door, say hello to his teacher and i'll walk away and then cry. it's just all so surreal. i'm sorry. i just can't -- it's all just a
nightmare. >> reporter: and the nightmare continues to play out at st. rose of lima church with back-to-back funerals for two 6-year-olds. james mattioli loved doing yard work with his dad and cuddling up on the couch with his mom. christa rekos says she still can't believe her daughter jessica, who loved horses and was about the get cowgirl boots for christmas, isn't coming home. mourners at her funeral paid tribute. >> she was teaching her brother how to read and everything. just a very giving child. was just a very, very nice ceremony. >> reporter: 27-year-old victoria soto was remembered today for her heroism, for hiding students in closets, then trying to shield them from a hail of bullets. >> vicky died a hero, she was protecting her children, which she loved very much. she didn't call them her students. she called them her kids. >> reporter: today her fellow teachers were still looking out for their students, preparing
for the eventual return to class. moving trucks passed the memorials that lined the roads here, hauling furniture and just about everything else from sandy hook elementary school to their new campus. officials are working overtime here at chuck hill middle school in nearby monroe, connecticut. inside, teachers and officials are working around the clock to recreate sandy hook elementary room by room with painstaking detail. using photos taken inside the school, they're creating a carbon copy of each classroom from what was on the walls, right down to the crayon left in the desk. exactly as it was friday when the school day was savagely cut short. but what if creating that exact environment only triggers the trauma again? >> it might for some kids. it might be a bit wedge. >> reporter: dr. jamie howard is a child psychologist who specializes in post traumatic stress. >> we do try to expose kids to triggers of the trauma because avoiding triggers or avoiding things that remind kids of
trauma, and grown-ups, too, just serves to maintain the anxiety. >> reporter: they're ripping out toilets designed for middle schoolers and installing new bathrooms better suited for grade schoolers, hoping to reopen after winter break. why are they in such a hurry? >> it's really important to maintain routines as quickly as possible. that's actually very comforting and very reassuring to kids. >> reporter: there are no rules on how to return a school to normal after such a heinous act. in kentucky, where three students were killed 15 years ago, heath high school opened the very next day. >> this rally represents a new beginning for columbine high school. >> reporter: columbine took four months to reopen after 12 people were gunned down and ten were injured. they demolished the library and replaced it with a sunny atrium. after a gunman killed 32 people at virginia tech, parts of campus went through extensive renovations and gradually reopened. but sandy hook is unprecedented, because the victims were so
young. >> they make sense of things differently. they might be more clingy. they might regress more, so they might start sucking their thumb, for example. >> reporter: the new campus is being outfitted with a new security system. officials promised it will be the safest school in america. a pledge parents the use to reassure their children and themselves. for "nightline," i'm juju chang in newtown, connecticut. coming up next, from selling off shares to stripping shelves, how this tragedy is changing the game, at least for now, for those who make, sell, and invest in the booming business of guns. [ male announcer ] red lobster's crabfest ends soon.
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this special edition of "nightline" continues from new york city with bill weir. >> not columbine, nor virginia tech, nor the gaby giffords shooting that took six lives in tuscan had much effect on the gun debate if this country. but there is nothing like the slaughter of 20 first graders to help people focus on an issue. many on both sides of the second amendment debate wonder tonight if this one is big enough to actually change the big business of guns in this country long-term. darren rovell found some interesting early indications. >> reporter: at a gun store in san gabriel, california, just outside of los angeles, business was brisk today. customers buying guns and ammunition, making sure they can get what they want now. the u.s. firearms industry is breaking all kinds of sales records. now more than a $30 billion
business with so many different people buying guns, that it's impossible to profile the typical gun owner. >> i need your signature. >> reporter: people like this stay-at-home mom. >> this is the first gun i have ever purchased. i never thought i would be purchasing one, but my husband does have one. >> reporter: edgar hernandez was just out window shopping. >> i came in to look for a new long gun for my collection. >> reporter: pete has owned this store for 30 years. >> there's more and more first-time gun buyers than i can ever remember. people who 20 years ago would have never dreamed of owning a firearm. >> there you go. ready to rock 'n' roll. >> reporter: in the wake of the massacre at newtown, the people willing to consider putting their hand on the trigger has risen. >> the media and the government are talking about more gun legislation, so therefore, they're deciding well, perhaps i should take action now. >> reporter: despite the cash registers ringing, it's not an easy time to be in the gun
business. walmart, the nation's largest seller of guns and ammunition, has pulled their version of the bushmaster semiautomatic rifle similar to the one used in the shooting off its website. outdoor retailer cabella's hasc used in the shooting in its one store in connecticut. while dick's sporting goods is taking it a step further. company temporarily suspending a whole category of modern sporting rifles at its more than 500 stores in 44 states nationwide. many public companies are torn between showing sensitivity towards what happened in newtown and trying to make a profit. what do you feel like the responsibility is for the companies, their fiduciary responsibility versus being sensitive? >> the sandy hook tragedy profoundly affected a large number of americans, so i think they're going to tread lightly and do their best to challenge both of those obligations.
their obligation to be respectful to the victims and also their desire to make as much money as possible. >> reporter: despite the jump in sales, investors haven't felt positive about making a stake in the gun owners themselves, who continue to get pounded on wall street today. shares of smith and wesson dropped 10% today. the stock has dropped 20% since friday morning. another gun company, sturm ruger down nearly 18% since friday. when the california state teachers retirement system, the largest educator pension fund in the realize it invested in bushmaster, the gunman's rifle brand -- >> we were frankly horrified to learn on monday morning that within our investment portfolio we owned a company, or a slice of a company that manufactured
one of the weapons that were used. >> reporter: after the teachers threatened to pull its sizable investment altogether, that firm announced today it would sell its gun business. they are saying it was a financial decision. as a firm, we are investors, not statesmen or policymakers. our role is to make investments on behalf of our clients. the company said in a statement. back at the gun shop in california, pete shows off a version of the ar-15 rifle he has in stock. similar to the weapon that was used in the connecticut shootings. he is unapologetic. >> the second amendment isn't about hunting guns. it isn't about target shooting. the second amendment is about the power of the people to protect themselves from a government that has become oppressive. >> reporter: politics versus profits. how that's resolved will determine what will be sold in the future. for "nightline," i'm darren rovell in new york.
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cultural effect of having so many young men living virtual lives as first person shooters. tonight abc takes a look. >> reporter: across the country this week, america's love affair with violence is under the microscope. two of hollywood's hottest new releases, both shoot 'em ups, "jack reacher" and "django unchained" cancelled premieres out of respect. "hitman" led david axelrod to tweet, shouldn't we also quit marketing murder as a game? while the adults were asking questions, america's kids went on their daily shooting spree. it is virtual violence. in this case, playing one of the most popular, profitable and most violent games, "call of duty," a so called first person shooter, because the player t e
takes on a killer's point of view. but is this just good fun or is an entire generation being trained and desensitized to the act of shooting people? thomas and steven are typical of many in their generation. good jobs by day, obsessed with "call of duty" when they get home. dr. chris ferguson has conducted a series of multi-year studies of 11 to 18-year-olds to find out what violent games do to them. his conclusion -- >> there's no evidence to suggest that exposure to violent video games is associated with violent criminal behavior. >> reporter: he has a name for the outcry over violent games that sometimes follows a mass shooting. he calls it moral panic. >> whenever a new form of media that comes out that particularly older generations don't use and don't understand is very, very common for that new medium to be
blamed for a variety of social ills. >> reporter: in the 1950s, it was comic books and a full senate hearing over the belief that they were making america's kids turn violent. >> what are we afraid of? are we afraid of our own children? do we forget that they are citizens too? and entitled to the essential freedom to read? or do we think our children so evil, so vicious, so simple minded that it takes but a comic magazine story of murder to set them to murder. >> reporter: by the 1980s, it was tipper gore over the issue of suggestive rock lyrics. ♪ we're not gonna take it ♪ >> why do you think there is so much to sadomasochism and bondage in these songs? >> ms. gore was looking for sadomasochism and she found it. >> reporter: he supports this
american academy of pediatrics finding. the received is now clear and convincing. media violence is one of the causal factors of real life violence and aggression. >> kids spend an incredible amount of time with the media, seven to 11 hours a day. they see increasingly violent media. we all acknowledge that the media have an impact. why in this country would we spend $250 billion a year on advertising if we didn't think advertising affected people. >> so whose research to believe? who to judge? the u.s. supreme court already has. in striking down california's attempt at a violent video game law, the court had this to say about studies linking games to violent behavior. these studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: they do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively. bonnie ross, a mother of two young children with her own
concerns, also happens to run one of the most successful first person shooter games around -- "halo 4." while it's far more tame than the violent games many point fingers at, ross's advice is the same. what do you say to parents who say it's too violent, not good for kids? >> what i recommend is your kids are going to play games. play it with them so that you can really be there to answer questions and help them through that, and then you have to make a decision as a parent what's right for you. >> reporter: games, movies, music, comics. easy targets amidst a moral panic. >> as a society, if we focus in on the wrong issue, focus in on something that is a red herring, that is not going to help anybody, that can really distract the national conversation from serious issues. and thank you for watching abc news tonight. we do hope you check in with our friends at "good morning america," bringing you the world whyo